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Even though I have traversed all the major seaside resort towns of the country, the Eastern Ghats have always remained an enigma to me. Earlier this year, I got an opportunity to check out one of the most illustrious of Indian port cities, Visakhapatnam, along with Maruti Suzuki Alto and Outlook Traveller on the “Wheels of Wander’ self-driving trip with four other friends. The city holds a significant place in my heart as my grandfather was stationed here during the 1971 war when the notable Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi, sank off its coast. The stories of his posting and the infamous capsizing have always rung in our home, so finally visiting the city was a momentous occasion for me.
In a fitting tribute, we decided to start off our journey at the Submarine Museum located on the Beach Road of the city. INS Kurusura, a gigantic diesel powered submarine hosted us through its narrow paths inside, as we gaped at the intricate machinery. Our guide, Shankara took us to the officers’ cabin, the engine room and even the torpedo tubes. The port initially had four similar Foxtrot class submarines and it is believed that one of them is responsible for the tussle with Ghazi. One could only let the imagination run wild in playing out the events of what might have actually happened. But a peekinside a submarine was a thrilling start to the trip nevertheless.
It’s heretical to leave a coastal city without dipping your feet in the water or digging them in the sand. Visakhapatnam was no different. Just outside the Submarine Museum is the vast golden sprawl of the Radhakrishna or RK Beach. Visakhapatnam’s coastline runs parallel to the Beach Road and RK borders with Palm Beach, further becoming Yeroda Beach and the Rushikonda Beach along it. The main Beach Road is a pleasantly traffic-less stretch flanked by palm trees. The road is sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and the Kailasagiri Hill.Sea-breeze seeking tourists and locals dot the sand, most of them coming out to see the spectacular sunrise. RK Beach can get a little hectic withan array of water sports such as water skiing, kayaking and banana boat ride, but the Palm Beach is where you go to catch your moments of peace. With a handful of early morning risers, I decided to watch the sun paint the sky in brushstrokes of orange.
For foodies, seaside cities allow for a daily dose of fish and other coastal dishes. The shacks along the Beach Road were ideal for this. Typical Andhra flavours in Vanjaram fish, black pepper biryani, ghee roast, spicy prawns and appams were delightful.
The sight of the waterfront always helps to unwind, but we were looking at something more dramatic. So off we went to Kailasagiri Hill, a hill-top park with an unbridled view of the city of Visakhapatnam. The tiered complex offers plenty of activities for every age group. Kids can take a toy train ride that takes them to the summit of the Kailash Hills and shows a bird’s eye view of the city. The top part of the park overlooks two huge white stone idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Paragliding facilities are available for adventure seekers and the vantage point for looking at the Bay of Bengal is always welcome to photographers.
We had only two days to explore the city, as Araku Valley was also part of the plan. The mere 48 hours was just a flavour of the breathtaking city, enthralling enough to ensure that I will soon be back.
Courtesy of Outlook Traveller
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